Forty-eight staff at Letterkenny University Hospital are currently off work due to Covid-19 infection.
There are a further 13 staff off because they are symptomatic or a close contact of a confirmed case.
An ongoing Covid-19 outbreak is said to be stabilising at the hospital, where the number of staff affected by the virus has decreased by 50% in the last fortnight.
Covid-19 patient numbers at the hospital have also reduced in the past week. As of 8pm last night (Friday) there are 21 confirmed COVID-19 positive in-patients in LUH. Two of those patients are in ICU and another patient with a suspected case of Covid-19 is also in critical care.
Letterkenny University Hospital has been the site of Ireland’s largest hospital-wide screening programme to date. Almost 1,100 staff were tested as part of the universal screening led by the hospital’s Outbreak Control Team.
300 more staff who were connected to the Covid-19 outbreak areas are being routinely tested, the hospital has said.
The stabilisation of the outbreak at LUH has paved the way for the resumption of some services which were deferred in recent weeks.
The hospital is planning to reinstate services on a phased basis:
- Outpatient Clinics will resume on its normal schedule from next Monday the 14th December. Patients who have clinic appointments should attend as normal unless contacted by the Hospital
- Scheduled surgery will commence on a phased basis from Monday 14th December. Next week only day surgery lists will be scheduled to treat time sensitive cases displaced over the last 4 to 6 weeks.
- Inpatient surgery will be undertaken between Monday the 21st and Wednesday the 23rd of December, again with patients selected on the basis of time sensitive need. Some day-case activity will also take place.
- On the basis that COVID-19 levels remain in control, the hospital plans to re-introduce its full schedule of elective services from Monday the 4th January 2021.
Despite the significant decrease in the number of COVID-19 inpatients and a stabilisation of the outbreak, the hospital remains extremely busy.
Saolta has confirmed that 44 beds remain closed as part of the outbreak controls.
“We are working hard to re-open the closed beds as soon as it is safe to do so,” a statement said.
“Attendances are still very high to our Emergency Department and we regret that patients are waiting prolonged periods of time to be admitted to a bed in the hospital from the ED. We know this is very difficult for patients and families and we are working continuously to improve the situation. We would again remind patients that the Emergency Department is for urgent and emergency care and patients should go to their GP or GP out of hours for routine treatment.”
A spokesperson for the hospital told Donegal Daily that the last number of weeks have been “very challenging” for LUH with significant numbers of staff on COVID-19 related leave, many of which were associated with COVID-19 outbreak areas.
The Outbreak Control Team at Letterkenny University Hospital (LUH) continues to meet on a daily basis to manage the outbreak and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in LUH.
“The team in LUH continue to be grateful for the input and support of HSE Public Health and Occupational Health Services,” the spokesperson said.
Results from the universal screening programme detected COVID-19 virus in less than 1% of staff and in over half of these positive cases it was determined that the result was due to a previous infection. 0.4% of the 1000 plus staff tested as part of this screening process had an active infection.
“The rate of COVID-19 virus detected in staff as part of this screening process was significantly less that the average in County Donegal and the national average. The extremely low detection rate is indicative of the success of the infection control measures implemented by the hospital, including the use of PPE. It also reflects well on the adherence by our staff, both at work and outside work, to hospital and public health guidance,” the spokesperson said.
“Testing such a large number of staff in a short period of time was a huge logistical exercise and I want to thank the teams across the hospital who enabled this, in particular the Infection Control Team and the Pathology Department. We are very grateful to the National Ambulance Service and our colleagues in CHO 1 who were a critical part of this universal screening process.
“We were also supported by our colleagues across the Saolta Group both in the roll-out of the testing and providing patient support where needed. I want to thank the staff at LUH for coming forward in such large numbers to be tested; it truly demonstrates their commitment to maintain the highest standard of patient care.”